Tiffany R. Warren realized her calling early in life. She is the SVP, Chief Diversity Officer for Omnicom, one of the largest advertising and marketing networks in the world. She’s also the founder and president of ADCOLOR, an organization that champions and advocates for diversity in the creative and tech industries. But her work changing corporate culture actually began when she was a toddler.
Danielle: There was an article this week about CEOs and executives being kind of like this therapist in chief role. How do you navigate the professional and personal part of people in your role, because it is so tied in to DEI? And what's your advice, honestly, for leaders who are trying to navigate that?
Tiffany: I've never not known the role of just listening and observing. And part of the questions that I think we should all ask and be okay with reciprocating in the sense of if you can ask the question, you can answer it, are: "What are you feeling? What are you seeing? What are you hearing?"
...When we hear the word reckoning, it feels like there's supposed to be some corporal punishment at the end of it. But reckoning, even in a spiritual setting, is just self-directed reflection. What can you do to be better? I think allyship has been glamorized, has been made to be very superficial, but a true ally, a true advocate gets into the trenches with individuals and comes out better on the other side.
Danielle: One of the things we hear when it comes to mainly White people talking about this... is, "Am I going to say the wrong thing?" And I think that really stifles conversation. What’s your reaction to that when people say that?
Tiffany: That comes from fear… I mean, obviously there's something hugely different about the last two weeks more so than maybe a month ago, but these problems existed for as long as you've known me. There's no wrong way to have a conversation about this. I think when you couple this kind of conversation with privilege… I mean, I remember having a conversation about, "We need to talk about privilege at ADCOLOR this year, right now."
Because what I was seeing is that… people were deeply ashamed to talk about it. But we brought privilege to the stage in a way that was giving the opportunity for allies to understand that you can give away your privilege on Tuesday and you can wake up on Wednesday with the same amount of privilege. You can spend it the whole week and it's renewable.
… I think people fear education. They fear being called out. They fear cancel culture. These are all things that are part of the fear of not just asking the question to begin with… Do you want someone to feel afraid to ask you the question and continue to be in silence and be ignorant? No. What you want is to create stronger allies. And to your point, the other part of it, too, is it my job to educate you? No. But in that moment, if I'm your friend and if I'm your colleague, it's important for me to share my response to any question that you have.
Carly: What is your best advice for negotiation in the workplace?
Tiffany: You know what's interesting, I've been negotiating, truthfully, since my first internship. And I think part of it is I grew up with a family that taught me self-awareness, taught me to love myself, to honor who I am, to honor the value of my intelligence… I fortunately have had the opportunity, because of what I do, which is very singular, to say, "This is what I'm worth.”
When I went to Omnicom, one of the things that I was adamant about was that I just started this not-for-profit and it was a baby. It was only two years old. And I said, "I cannot do this. I have to do this and do this role." And I put that in my offer letter. I said I have to concurrently do both because it was that important to me. And I'm glad I did that because... next year we'll be celebrating our 15th year, and how important it was for me to be able to have the autonomy and know that I had expertise in doing the role that I was hired for, but then I had this calling to do this other role that would help the industry at large, that then hopefully helped the company that I'm a part of.
“We're not taught to advocate for ourselves at the expense of maybe ruffling some feathers.”
"Empathy is everything."
“I started seeing that when I advocated for people, it was different than other people doing it.”